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Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

What Side of the Fence Are You On?

“But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;
And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

Malachi 4:2

After three chapters of blistering rebuke towards the people and priests of Malachi’s day, the Lord now begins to wind down the book of Malachi and the Old Testament in general with a question and a choice.  The question is simple: Where will you stand on the great day of judgment, on the great Day of the Lord?  And the choice is simpler still: What are you prepared to do about it right now?

The Day of the Lord

Four times in the last eight verses of Malachi we find that great and powerful day referenced (Mal. 3:17; 4:1, 3, 5).  The Day of the Lord is a day of judgment, of wrath, and of great calamity and describes some horrific events that take place at, or near, the close of history.  Zephaniah describes it as “a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:15).  But it’s also a time of great rejoicing when God fulfills His promise to true, believing Israel and ushers in His Kingdom.  It’s a time when “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26) and a time when God will forgive their sins and restore to Israel the land He promised to Abraham.  In other words, the Day of the Lord is the time when God will punish evil, disobedience and unbelief but also a time when He will fulfill all His promises to those who are “called by His Name” (Isa. 43:7).

It will be a day of great dread and fear or a day of great joy and rejoicing— and all that depends on what side of the fence you’re on when the Day appears.

After God encourages His faithful remnant by reminding them “they shall be Mine on the day that I make them My jewels (or, special treasure)” (Mal. 3:17), God then begins to unpack exactly what the Day of the Lord will be like for those on both sides of the fence.

That Side: The Lost and Unbelieving— the Crowd

For those on the lost, unregenerate, unbelieving side of the fence, the Day of the Lord is described as a scorching, consuming fire, much like a furnace or great oven.  So intense is God’s judgment fire that it “will leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1), no present and no future.  It’s a frightening picture of the total destruction of those who speak harshly against the Lord (Mal. 3:13) and defile and despise His Name (Mal. 1:6-7).  Jesus speaks of it as a “furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42).  Paul says that day will come “as a thief in the night” (1 The. 5:2) and Peter concludes by stating, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).  Get the picture?  Intense fire, scorching heat, wailing and gnashing of teeth, a massive furnace, a red-hot oven, great noise, consuming flames, total destruction.

And those on that side of the fence?  What does God say about them?  He calls them the “proud, yes, all who do wickedly” and describes them as “stubble or chaff” (Mal 4:1).  They are the short dry stumps of grain left in a field after harvesting, highly combustible, ready to be thrown, discarded, consumed in the great fire of His judgment.  It’s not a pretty picture for those on that side of God’s fence.

This Side: Those Who Love and Fear the Lord— the Remnant

Note what the Lord says to those on this side of His fence, to those who fear Him and offer to Him “an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3).

“But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Mal. 4:2).  They will rejoice when they see the wicked judged and God’s Name held high and glorified.  They will sing for joy when the righteous are brought into the Kingdom and they hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).  And they shall praise His Name when God exalts His people over the wicked who have oppressed and persecuted them for so long.  The Day of the Lord will be a day of great rejoicing, a day of singing and dancing, for those on this side of God’s fence.

The Question: What Are You Prepared to Do About It?

That’s right, what are you going to do?  What’s your plan, your next move?  The Lord has revealed two great groups of people (Mal. 3:18), two separate and distinct paths (Matt. 7:13-14), two options, two destinations, and only one choice.  What will you choose?

Joshua told the people in his day to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15).  And the words of Malachi are telling each of us to do the same: Choose.  Choose whom we will serve?  Choose what side of God’s fence we want to live on.  Choose heaven or hell, life or death, blessing or cursing— just choose.  Why?  Because all eternity rests on that very choice.  So choose wisely.

And to help us choose correctly, the Lord ends the Old Testament with these words of warning and encouragement.  First, the look back into His Word: “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb (or, Mt. Sinai) for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Mal. 4:4).  Remember the Word of God, the Law, the promises, the prophecies, the foretelling of the Messiah, the blessings and the warnings, remember all God has done for you and how much He loves you (Mal. 1:1).  Stop what you’re doing, turn around, look back and remember.  This is the same God who says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  He has loved you then, He loves you now.  Remember.

Then, look forward to the day of His promise, to the day of the coming of His Son, Jesus. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.  And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).  Before the Day of the Lord dawned it was promised that Elijah would first come and preach a message of repentance to prepare the way for the Messiah (Isa. 40:3).  That day has already come.  The promise has already been fulfilled.  John the Baptist, according to Jesus, was the very fulfillment of that promise and, for those who “have ears to hear,” was the “Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14-15)  And who was this Messiah?  His name is Jesus.

So now, it’s your choice.  Do you remain on that side of the fence, the easy side, the sinful side, laughing along with those who arrogantly reject the sacrifice of Christ and strive to be a god in their own eyes?  Do you throw your lot in with them?  Are you part of the massive throng— blind, yet so proud, traveling aimlessly on the wide path that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13)?  Is the cross of Christ, the only way to escape the curse, foolishness to you (1 Cor. 1:18)?  If so, Malachi has clearly told you what your future holds, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Actually, it’s dreadful, gruesome, and terrifying.  Or, are you one of the elect, the chosen, the few, the faithful remnant, the blessed beneficiaries of an incredible inheritance in Christ (Rom. 8:17) that is beyond description (Eph. 3:20-21)?

Which one are you?  Which side of the fence are you on?  And how will you describe the coming Day of the Lord?

Will it be a time of great blessing, of continuous rejoicing and singing, a time of childlike wonder and awe?  Or will you, like so many others, try to run and hide, foolishly thinking you can somehow escape the burning, scorching, all consuming red-hot fire of His judgment?  Will you be one of those that cry out to the very mountains and rocks to “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).

Which side of the fence are you on?  And what are you prepared to do about it?

Choose quickly.  Because time is short and He’s coming soon (Rev. 22:12).  The clock is ticking.  Time is running out.  Choose today.

Come Lord Jesus.